Li Ka-shing
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Li Ka-shing to accept naming honour, despite 'hurtful sniping'

Li Ka-shing

Li Ka-shing says he was deeply hurt by 'rude remarks' made in the wake of the offer to rename the University of Hong Kong's medical faculty after him in gratitude for his $1 billion donation.

The tycoon said yesterday in a letter to the university's vice-chancellor, Tsui Lap-chee, and friends of the university, that his acceptance was not an act of vanity but arose from a deep affiliation and dedication to Hong Kong. He also believed the move could encourage philanthropy and promote donations to universities around the world.

Mr Li wrote that he was still happy despite the 'sniping' that erupted after the renaming offer.

The letter came on the same day his charity arm, the Li Ka Shing Foundation, announced it was donating $300 million to the University of California, Berkeley, to establish a biomedical and health sciences centre to be named after Mr Li.

'I must admit that the rude remarks which have been thrown at the university have hurt me deeply, though I believe that in these reckless and unruly times, one is only more noble to uphold correct principles,' his letter reads.

'Those who do not know me might mistake my support for Hong Kong University as an act of vanity.'

'I have indeed asked myself why, if I have declined to have my name associated with over 80 per cent of [charity] projects over the past three decades, why then am I unchanged in my decision on this naming?

'The answer in my heart is simple: Hong Kong is the place I call home,' he wrote.

He said he wanted his donations to establish medical research centres in Britain, the United States, and Canada, forming a network for international exchanges with medical students from Hong Kong.

Mr Li hoped the practice of making donations could become 'more dignified and understood here at home'.

Legislator Kwok Ka-ki, a medical graduate who has led a campaign against the naming, was disappointed by Mr Li's remarks.

'This has reaffirmed that it is a deal of buying and selling,' he said, noting that Mr Li had rejected things being named after him in response to most of his donations.

'We do not object to donations especially from Mr Li, who is a noble person, but we will oppose any selling and buying involving the university,' he said. Dr Kwok said that the HKU medical faculty had already established international links, through the hard work and success of its graduates over the past century.

Professor Tsui said yesterday he hoped society would understand Mr Li's genuine motives and love for Hong Kong. 'I am most grateful for Mr Li's continued support of HKU and his very kind words of encouragement,' he said.

In a statement issued yesterday, the university said the renaming decision was made after proper procedures and consultation.